A US-based rights group has urged Myanmar to prevent the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Rohingya from voting in crucial November elections after the minority were stripped of their identity cards earlier this year. The Carter Center also warned that growing anti-Islamic hate speech in the Buddhist-majority nation could see religious tensions flare during the upcoming campaign period. Myanmar authorities began collecting temporary identification documents from minority groups, mainly the displaced Rohingya in western Rakhine state, in April — a move which takes away their voting rights.
In a report on the looming elections released late Wednesday the centre said it hoped President Thein Sein’s decision to revoke the documents “does not result in large-scale disenfranchisement of previously eligible voters”.
The advocacy group, which has been invited to observe the Myanmar polls along with the European Union, said Myanmar had substantially improved the political environment in preparation for the November 8 polls, but added “significant challenges remain” .